Holiday mood

My (extended) Afroz summer gained a more holiday-ish spirit when I received the visit of my friend from Bucharest, Irina (the same Irina I met in Nice, maybe you remember), who came together with her husband and with my brother, Alexandru. Having people from my Romanian life, people that are so dear and important to me, joining into my experience of Afroz and of this island felt like an unexpected blessing.

One of these holiday-days, Irina and I decided it was the right moment for a “girls’ morning”. So we drove up to the village of Eressos and there we found the perfect place for our morning coffee: a little wooden bench under the big oak tree in the village square. Here, we enjoyed our coffee and the view of people coming and going out of the square, we listened to each other’s words, and hearts, we welcomed a stray cat that jumped out of nowhere besides us, on the bench. And, at length, we stood up and waked slowly the streets of the little village.

In the evening, now in the complete formula of four, we chose one of the restaurants over at the seaside to have dinner and to look at the sunset. And here it is another surprise that September brought into my life in Lesbos: the sun is no longer setting behind the hills, unseen, unnoticed, but into the sea, capturing the eye and the attention of all. Having been raised in a country where the sea faces east, this has been the first time in my life when I could watch, over and over again, the sunset on the sea. And sometimes I would just lock my eyes into the setting light, welcoming it inside me, wondering where the sun was going, what people and places would receive its light, now, that we could not see it anymore…

Afroz, here I come!

Last evening in Athens. I pack everything, make a list of things not-to-forget in the morning, take a note of how to get to the airport. In the morning I am going to fly from Athens to Mytilini, the capital of the Greek island Lesbos. And from Mytilini, I will have to arrive to Afroz, my next destination and home for the next few months, around 80 km on the other side of the island.

To get to Afroz, one option would be to take the bus from the Mytilini airport. However, considering that the last bus of the day is scheduled some 20 minutes after my flight’s landing time, it is very probable I will miss it. If so, either I would have to take a 85 euro taxi or.. do not know yet. The people from the Afroz center told me that they will announce me if there is another person coming from Mytilini the same day, to share a taxi. After packing, I check my e-mail one last time: no news from Afroz – probably no one else is coming. It then occurs to me that I could stay one night in Mytilini and catch the next day’s bus – and probably one night of accommodation would be the same price or even cheaper than the taxi. I liked the idea of discovering this city, capital of the island of Lesbos – now, that I got used to staying a few days in one place, then packing, saying goodbye and going to somewhere else, the idea of stopping one night in Mytilini, finding a place to stay, unpacking, staying the night and leaving in the morning, did not even seem tiresome – the traveller in me seems to have got awaken. Last year, when returning to Bucharest at the end of my holidays in Afroz, I was surprised to see in Mytilini some very beautiful beginning-of-the-20th-century buildings, with an air of aristocracy, ease and holiday spirit. The idea of taking pictures of the city in the warm light of the afternoon sun instantly seduced me.

Thinking of Mytilini, I remember that one of my friends living on the island told me once that he knew somebody owning a little hotel in Mytilini. So I decid to write him and the Afroz center asking for information on accommodation in Mytilini and call it a night. Not really knowing where I will be sleeping the next night – but I find myself in peace with that. One thing I keep practicing in this trip: trying not to think about something that I cannot solve in that very second. Sometimes you don’t have enough information, sometimes it is just not the moment to take a decision, other times, even if you could decide in advance what to do, you don’t know what you would like more to do when the time comes. So I developed a kind of preliminary analysis of any problem that presents to me: is it anything I can do about it now? What? So when I have to plan something, to solve something, I do whatever I can do about it in that very moment. If nothing can be done, I take all the information I need and then I let it be. I don’t think about it anymore. To try to predict what would happen is just a waste of time. For instance, there is no need to try to think about whether or not I will catch the bus in Mytilini and what I would do if I don’t – there is no point in trying to decide what I will do tomorrow, in Mytilini, when me, I am here, in Athens, just finishing to pack. I will see it when the time comes. There is no need to worry about it or overthink it. I am sure what I have just wrote will bring a smile on the faces of my friends – people knowing me as a person who likes to plan, organize, make to-do-lists, trying to foresee how things would go and have a plan about it and – why not say it? – a somewhat controlling person. I am not pretending that this part of me has completely disappeared. Just that I am now tasting and practicing a new way of being, of living. And you know what? I am really enjoying it: just letting go, letting life unfold, giving up the control a little bit.

Well, having finished everything, I set my alarm clock and go to sleep. But I find I cannot fall asleep as easily as I usually do. I am tossing around, moving in bed, with a big smile on my face: I feel excited as a child before his first day of school! I don’t even know exactly why. Maybe in another post I will tell you more about my Afroz experience last year and the sense of freedom, joy and peace I felt then. But that was then, this is now. I was opened to the fact that this year I may not like it at all, that three months is a lot of time to stay in one place, that this year I would be working full time in the center, so maybe the feeling of it would be totally different… Well, if I don’t like it, I will leave sooner to Thailand or even back to Romania, if I feel like it! And that is all.

I finally fall asleep and wake up 3 minutes before the alarm rings. I close my luggage, eat and check my e-mail again – no reply from Lesbos. Well, I’ll see in Mytilini what to do. I give a last goodbye hug to my cousin and her beautiful little child and set off to the airport. I almost miss the bus station where I have to change for the metro: as the doors of the bus open, I ask “Metro?” to a guy with a big luggage near me (he must know!). He replies in English he does not know and another person going down says “Yes, yes, here, metro!”. I go down and after a few moments I hear behind me the guy with the big luggage: “Hello! Actually, I have to thank you: I was, me too, going to the metro, but did not know I have to go down there”. I find out he is French, back-packing for one month in Greece, going to Penepolis by train. We say goodbye at the metro and each go our own way.

I take the metro and, when almost to the airport, I get a telephone call from a Greek number and a voice says “Hi” in Romanian. I am confused at the beginning, but I finally understand it is the Romanian friend who is also working in Afroz for the summer. She tells me that Tameer, the person running the center of whom I have a wonderful warm memory from last year, is going to Mytilini by car to do some shopping for the center and that he could pick me up from the airport. I would just have to wait two hours or so. I take the number, I say many thank you-s and a very happy “See you soon!”. I close the telephone and I cannot help smiling, with my lips, with my eyes, with all my being. The old man in front of me must think I am crazy! I look at the window and smile, I look around me and I cannot seem to put my lips in a “normal” position. Not that I try very hard. I feel I am happy. And that the air around me is happy and vibrating with joy and gratefulness! Because it is sunny and warm, because I am going to a Greek island, because life has a way of solving everything (if you let it), because friends are waiting for me, because I feel protected and loved and taken care of. Because I love.. Not exactly sure what, but I do! :)

I finish writing this post in a taverna right next to the Mytilini airport, where I wait for Tameer. I see the sea across the street, olive trees and flowers, I look at the cats moving around me and the two children who are playing digging their hands in the grass and dirt in front of the restaurant.

I will close with some words I read in the airplane this morning and which, today maybe more than in any other day, speak to me:

“Live this moment, live this moment as totally as possible, and suddenly you will come to realize if you live it totally, it is solved. There is no need to solve it. Life is not a problem, it is a mystery to be lived. If you live it totally it is solved, and you come out of it beautiful, enriched, with new treasures of your being opened, but nothing hanging around you. Then you move in another moment with that freshness, with this totalness, intensity, so that another moment is lived – and solved.” Osho – Intimacy

Life is not a problem, it is a mystery to be lived…